Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes




I love to watch television shows about food, especially shows about baking (of course).  One of my favorite shows was DC Cupcakes.  When I heard that Sophie and Katherine were going to be at the Willow Books & Cafe in Acton, MA, I was there!!  I've only been to one other book signing prior to this (Jodi Picoult in Boston, with my sister).  I've since learned they are all run differently.  If you are interested, do the research ahead of time.  At Willow Books you have to buy the book ahead of time so that you receive a low number.  When you get there, you can sit wherever you want and listen to their talk.  Then you are called by a small group of numbers to get in line to have your book signed.  I think I was in the second group.  It was a really fun thing to do and I was able to talk with Sophie and Katherine for a minute or so.  They even brought sample cupcakes for everyone to try. YUM! 





I love this cookbook.  There are a lot of background stories about how they started their business and opened their Georgetown Cupcake stores.  I have also learned that there are different levels of ingredients.  As long as I have been baking, I have purchased my ingredients from the grocery store.  I finally decided that I was going to spend the money and buy the more expensive ingredients. There is a huge difference.  I also never paid attention to things such as using whole milk if called for.  If I had skim at home, that is what I used.  If it called for sifting dry ingredients, I might not do it if I didn't feel like it.  I now know that if you are going to go through all the motions of making a baked good from scratch, you should probably do what it takes to make it taste the best it should be.

It is Halloween season and I wanted to make some cupcakes to give to my kids to have in their dorm rooms.  There really is no reason to go crazy anymore during Halloween.  These are one of the recipes from the cookbook.  They are crazy delicious.


CUPCAKES


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbs European-style unsalted butter, room temperature (Plugra recommended)
    I have not found this yet, but I used butter from grass-fed cows.
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (preferably Madagascar Bourbon)
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder


MARSHMALLOW CENTER


8 cups mini marshmallows
4 Tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
green gel food color






GANACHE


1 cup Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream













DECORATIONS


Wilton Candy Melts (any 
  colors/flavors)
candy mold
4 cups crushed Oreo cookies
gummy worm candies
Other decorations of your 
  choice

CUPCAKES


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with 18 cupcake papers.  If not using papers, grease pans with butter.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper. Set aside.


Beat butter on medium speed until fluffy.  Add sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.  Add egg, one at a time, beating slowly until well incorporated for each egg.






Measure milk in a glass measuring cup.  Add vanilla and mix well with a fork.











Reduce speed on mixer to low.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Gradually add 1/3 of the milk mixture, beating until incorporated.  Continue adding remaining flour mixture and milk mixture, 1/3 at a time, and mixing until combined.  Add the cocoa powder; mix on low speed until just combined.



Use a large cookie scoop and fill baking cup 2/3 full with batter. 

























Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, checking at 15 minutes. Insert toothpick, cupcake will be done when toothpick comes out clean. 






  


Cool completely on a wire rack.












After the cupcakes are completely cooled, use an apple corer and gently push down through the center all the way down, making sure not to rip cupcake paper.  I used a paring knife since I do not have an apple corer. 



















Remove the cupcake core and set aside.

I ate a couple (yummy) and put the rest in the freezer for a later snack.

MARSHMALLOW CENTER



Place marshmallows, butter and vanilla in a non-stick dutch oven and place on medium heat. 

Once the marshmallows start to melt, continue mixing until completely melted.  Do not leave unattended.  Add green food coloring gel until the color is to your liking.
  


Transfer the melted marshmallow to a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with large tip.  I used a small spoon and just spooned the amount needed into the cupcake.  If the marshmallow seizes up and is hard to work with, reheat it.





Place a couple inches of water into a medium saucepan over medium to low heat.  Place a metal bowl over the pan. 









GANACHE

Combine the heavy cream and chocolate into the bowl.











As the chocolate melts, continuously stir until shiny and smooth.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan; let it cool for 3-4 minutes.









Working over the bowl, take a small spoonful of ganache and spoon over the cupcake.  Using the back of the spoon, smooth the ganache to the edge of the cupcake.  If it is too runny, let it sit for another minute or two. (sorry, I think I deleted this photo by mistake).  Let sit for five minutes.

DECORATIONS

 Melted candy shapes


Make these in advance. They can be stored in a ziplock bag or plastic container with tight cover. Place candy disks in a small, microwave-safe bowl.  Heat for 1 minute; stir.  Continue heating 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between.

Using a small spoon, place melted candy into form.  Tap                                                                           until candy spreads out and                                                                             there are no air bubbles left.




Place in refrigerator until the candy hardens.  Once hard, turn the mold over and the candies will fall out.  If there is candy that goes outside the mold (like the white bones above), use a knife to cut off the edges.






     








OREOS

Crush the Oreo cookies.  I used my Vitamix.

Sprinkle Oreo crumbs on top of the ganache for the dirt.





Time to decorate the cupcakes



My favorite trick when making cupcakes that have a special frosting or decorations, is to put a cupcake into a 9-oz. solo cup.  This helps keep the cupcake in place, is easy to transport if you are giving the cupcakes away and also (as in this case) helps hold the decorations in place while the ganache hardens.






Place your decorations onto the "dirt".  Place in fridge for a short time, just long enough to secure the decorations.  I placed the cups on a cookie sheet.










Congratulations!  You have now made an extremely cute and absolutely delicious Halloween cupcake.









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